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THE ATHENIAN MURDERS is a brilliant, very entertaining and absolutely original literary mystery, revolving round two intertwined riddles. In classical Athens, one of the pupils of Plato's Academy is found dead. His idealistic teacher suspects that this wasn't an accident and asks Herakles, known as the 'Decipherer of Enigmas', to investigate the death and ultimately a dark, irrational and subversive cult. The second plot unfolds in parallel through the footnotes of the translator of the text. As he proceeds with his work, he becomes increasingly convinced that the original author has hidden a second meaning, which can be brought to light by interpreting certain repeated words and images. As the main plot and also the translation of the manuscript advances, there are certain sinister coincidences, and it seems that the text is addressing him personally and in an increasingly menacing manner...THE ATHENIAN MURDERS constitutes a highly compelling, entertaining and intelligent game about the different ways we can see and read reality, about our refusal to take things 'as they are' and our need to interpret hidden meanings into everyday life.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780349116181
ISBN-10: 0349116180
Format: Paperback
(197mm x 132mm x 22mm)
Pages: 320
Imprint: Abacus
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
Publish Date: 5-Dec-2002
Country of Publication: United Kingdom

Reviews

UK Kirkus Review » This comes like a hurricane of fresh air hurtling out of Cuba and Madrid in a historical-mystery - horror-philosophical-literary farrago which manages to be funny too. It purports to be a translation into Spanish of an ancient Greek text. This turns out to be important since the 'translator' provides what is literally a sub-text, since it appears in often lengthy footnotes - I am sure the visual pun is intended! - which becomes a sub-plot to the main story. Yes, we are playing continental literary games, but the coconut within the shell is meaty and juicy and a damn good read as well. Athens, following defeat in the Peloponnesian War shortly after 387 BC, is a seething, anarchic world of crime and dark religious mysteries behind a fa?ade of order. Marshalling marvellous archaeological and anthropological detail, Somoza creates a place and a time that really do seem a world away from modern Europe, yet one captures a whiff of Batista's Havana, of past glories in decay, and the underground world of Santer?a. A young man of unimpeachable morals, a star pupil at Plato's Academy, is presumed killed and part-eaten by wolves on Mount Lycabettus. His tutor calls in Heracles, the 'Decipherer of Enigmas', and bit by bit dark, unwholesome, frightening truths are uncovered. Heracles's name is suggestive of course, like William of Baskerville's in the Name of the Rose; here it is Hercule Poirot who is invoked, though Heracles's size and appetites also suggest Montalban's Pepe Carvalho. Like the Name of the Rose, The Athenian Murders also has its philosophical undercurrent - a critique of Plato, Platonism and the Cave of Ideas. 'Stop looking for hidden ideas, final keys and ultimate meanings! Stop reading and live!' our author (?) exhorts us on the final page. Well, yes. But only if reading books like this one is part of life. Review by Julian Rathbone (Kirkus UK)


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Author Biography - Jose Carlos Somoza

Born in Habana in 1959 Somoza is a qalified psychiatrist but has been writing full-time since 1994. His many awards inc. the Cervantes Theatre Prize & the Cafe Gijon Prize & his novel DAFNE DESVANECIDA was shortlisted for 1 of Spain's most prestigious awards- the Nadal Prize.

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